Negotiating Airport Security—With a Disability

Daily Health Solutions, Featured Article, Healthy Living, Healthy Travel, Power to the Patient
on August 9, 2011

QUESTION: My brother and I have been planning a cruise abroad. He is 68 and now in good health, but had a colostomy two years ago. Unfortunately, he has heard horror stories on the news about people with medical devices or implants experiencing embarrassing situations due to pat-downs. He is very nervous about going through security for fear a pat-down might expose his condition. Is there some way we can avoid going through security?  My brother is so worried he is thinking about cancelling the trip. —Jane

ANSWER: Travel can be trying these days, but for those with medical conditions it can be a nightmare. Your brother’s fears are well-founded, but as his caregiver, you can put his mind at ease. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now offers TSA Medical Notification cards. The card tells the screener that the traveler has a health condition, disability or medical device that could affect the screening. There is a blank space where you can fill in his condition. Unfortunately, this card will not exempt your brother from a screening and possible pat-down, but it will notify the screener to be discreet and careful. If you would like to see a template of the card, go to Enter: TSA Notification Card in the Search box or call TSA at 866-289-9673. Bon Voyage!


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Patricia Smith is a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist with 20 years of training experience. As founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© (, the outreach division of Healthy Caregiving, LLC, she writes, speaks and facilities workshops nationwide in service of those who care for others. She has authored several books including To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving, which is available at or